The Ten Commandments to Dressing for Success


Clothes are the genesis of my misery, yet the source to my happiness. Each morning I wake up for work, I dread rolling out of bed to stand in front of my closet, only to stare blankly at the rainbow of colors and infinite selection of clothes pleading for my attention. The question of what I should wear lingers over me. Now, I know I am not the only woman who encounters this obstacle of choosing the perfect outfit that relays the confidence of Kate Midelton, the power of Michelle Obama, and the uniqueness of Lady Gaga. No pressure. So when it comes down to picking out that perfect outfit for work, I follow a simple guideline that I like to call “The Ten Looking-Like-What-You-Know-What-You-Are-Doing Commandments,” TLC for short.

As of now, I work three jobs: I am a quality assurance processor for a small insurance company, a model for a retail store, and an assistant accessory designer. Each business has a different dress code. The insurance company calls for snappy casual clothing. The retail store provides workers with a selection of clothes to choose from and a guideline on how to wear them. Unlike the insurance company where modest is hottest, the manager of the retail store has advised me on several occasions to “show a little skin because we’re trying to sell the ‘cute-and-flirty’ look.” As for the dress code when working with the accessory designer, I commonly wear what is current or pieces of apparel that I have made myself, but most importantly I wear her merchandise. This is key because I am presenting and selling her image, which directly relates to the first commandment of the TLC.

1. Thou shall portray the image of thy company in a positive manner.
Before you leave to go to work, or an interview, be sure to ask yourself: “Is this an acceptable look that reflects my companies standards?” or “Will people believe I know what I am doing just by looking at me?” By dressing in fashionable clothes when I go to work for Mrs. Hinton, I relay to the customer that I have knowledge of what is current and trending in the fashion industry. This allows the customer to trust that the product I am selling meets the standards of what can be considered fashionable.

2. Thou shall look better than thy customer.
Walmart, for example, has their workers wear simple khaki slacks and a blue vest, which automatically shows that they have higher standards than 75% of their customers who wear pajamas while shopping. Having a polished and well put-together look, you set a standard for your company. This standard establishes expectations; therefore, the better you look, the higher the expectations will be from your customer. These high expectations show that they trust you and your product.

3. Thou shall be modest (even if your boss believes otherwise).
All women have them, big or small. No matter what, most men are in awe of them and most women overlook others, unless they are made fully aware of their presence. If you have had encountered a woman where she shows more cleavage than the eye is prepared for, you were most likely either in shock, or disgusted. Either way, you thought negatively of this woman’s immodesty; therefore, you should cover up, as to prevent getting negative attention.

4. Thou shall respect thy boss.
Dressing for work is a science. It affects how people portray you and how they approach you. When it comes to seeing your boss, or going to an interview, dress appropriately and make sure that you do not have any tongue rings or other piercing of the like showing. By dressing too casual you are relaying the message to your boss that you have attitude, that you do not care, and you have little respect for your job.

5. Thou shall have personal hygiene.
Do everyone a favor and shower, shave, deodorize and brush your teeth. It might seem a little excessive, but I shower at least twice a day. On the days I only shower once I feel like I am wallowing in my own filth and want to hide in a corner. This is unproductive. So, shower. Please.

6. Thou shall never wear flip-flops.
Unless you are otherwise told to, which is the case at the retail store I work at, do not wear flip-flops. They are too casual and appear unprofessional.

7. Thou shall never wear anything with rips or holes.

8. Thou shall only wear ONE statement piece.
By having too many statement pieces, it becomes distracting and keeps the mind and eye busy and takes the attention away from what you are trying tell someone. It is important to note that these statement pieces should not be too outlandish. Make sure you are not wearing accessories that could be worn on the red carpet. If you decide to wear a high heel to work, be sure the shoe is a neutral tone and not a bright color, like hot pink, as this will be distracting and look like you raided Nicki Minaj’s closet.

9. Thou shall embrace the most glorified day of the week, Casual Friday.
The rules of Casual Friday are simple. Dark jeans, a nice top, and a pair of flats or sandals and you are good to go. No shorts. This article gives good insight on what to wear and what not wear:

10. Thou shall be confident in their outfit.
The rules above allow for a lot of flexibility to give you the chance to express your own individual style while staying within the frame of what your business expects. If you dress in something that you are not comfortable in you are only portraying to people that you are not comfortable in the role you are in. When you dress yourself in a well put-together outfit you not only show people who is boss but you also have the confidence to rule the world.

Paige Hawkins
Florida State University

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